Jumped up: Betfair profits ahead of expectations

BETFAIR, the world's largest betting exchange, yesterday reported better-than-expected profits thanks to strong demand for sports betting and growth of 24 per cent in football revenues.

The firm, which earlier this week announced it had begun the search for a new chief executive, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) rose by 27 per cent to 73.2 million in the year to the end of April.

It will pay a maiden dividend of 5.9p per share, but said revenues - which increased 15.4 per cent to 393.3 million - "could have been stronger" after they were hit by declining bets on horseracing and poker and "outages" due to technical problems on its websites.

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Betfair, which allows punters to set their own odds and bet against one another, said it faced an important year in which it would launch new products to drive growth.

Chief executive David Yu, who has announced plans to step down, said the company would make progress this year and that growth will accelerate afterwards.

The firm has seen its shares halve in value since it floated on the stock market in October.